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SA opens up to NT and Qld, eases gathering restrictions

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South Australia has reopened its border to most of the Northern Territory and Queensland, while a series of gathering restrictions will also be eased despite concerns about the growing threat posed by coronavirus outbreaks in New South Wales and Victoria.

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Police Commissioner and state emergency coordinator Grant Stevens told reporters after this morning’s transition committee meeting that effective immediately, many travellers from the Northern Territory will be allowed to travel into South Australia without having to quarantine or get tested.

Those travelling from Katherine are still required to quarantine and get tested for now, but Stevens said authorities expect to receive health advice later today that “may see Katherine being included in that total lift”.

The transition committee also agreed to ease border restrictions for Queensland, after that state this morning reported just one new locally-acquired infection – a historical case detected in home quarantine.

Travellers from the 11 local government areas that make up southeast Queensland, including Brisbane, will no longer have to quarantine after they arrive in South Australia, but they will need to get tested on days one, five and 13 and isolate until they receive their first negative result.

Those arriving from northern and regional Queensland will not be subjected to any restrictions.

Meanwhile, a series of internal restrictions will also be eased.

Effective at one minute past midnight tonight, the home gathering cap will be lifted from 10 to 20.

Private gatherings which are not held at homes or licensed premises will stay capped at 50, but people will be able to drink alcohol while standing, provided they comply with a density requirement of one person per two-square-metres.

Up to 150 people will be allowed to attend private functions held in licensed venues.

They will also be allowed to eat and drink while standing, provided they comply with a density requirement of one person per two-square-metres.

“This is something that we think the industry will be happy to receive, but it will be a decision they have to make in terms of whether you have seated consumption and three people per four-square-metres, or stand-up consumption at one person per two-square-metres,” Stevens said.

“That only applies to private functions in separate rooms.”

Patrons at licensed venues who are not attending private functions will not be allowed to stand up while drinking.

We’re confident that we can make these changes now, but we just remind people that every day is a different day in COVID-19

Density restrictions on weddings and funerals will depend on whether they are held at licensed venues.

“Where you have those ceremonial activities will dictate whether or not you can have the density requirement of a licensed premises or whether you have a private gathering density requirement of 50 people,” Stevens said.

“Dancing is not one of those changes that has been agreed to at this point in time, but we have approved vertical consumption (of food and drinks).”

Stevens said the transition committee discussed mask-wearing requirements, but “at this point, we are maintaining the requirement for people to wear masks in indoor public places”.

“We are encouraging people to wear a mask if they don’t think that they can physically distance from others, particularly strangers,” he said.

New South Wales today reported 642 new cases and four deaths, as Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced Sydney’s lockdown would be extended until September 30. 

Curfews from 9pm to 5am will be imposed in western Sydney’s 12 local government areas of concern from Monday.

People in these areas will also be limited to one hour of exercise, and NSW Police will be given the power to lock down entire apartment blocks due to COVID-19 cases.

Masks will also be mandated at all times – indoors and outdoors – across NSW from Monday.

Meantime, Victoria’s outbreak grew by 55 new cases, with 30 people infectious in the community.

Stevens said that the situation in the eastern states was “very concerning” and South Australia was “more likely than not to face seeding from those jurisdictions”.

But he said the transition committee needed to “take every opportunity to free up activity within the state”.

“We need to be prepared for that and take every opportunity to get on with our activities as much as we can knowing there’s a possibility that we might face further restrictions in the future,” he said.

“At this point in time, with the advice that we’ve received from SA Health, the level of wastewater testing that’s happening, we’re confident that we can make these changes now, but we just remind people that every day is a different day in COVID-19.”

It comes as Premier Steven Marshall holds talks with the AFL to discuss hosting next month’s grand final at Adelaide Oval.

Stevens said he was not privy to those discussions, but he was “hopeful that it happens in South Australia”.

“We made a commitment to SA Health that we will provide the level of security required to safely manage those events from a COVID point of view and obviously with a crowd management point of view if we are considered for finals games here in Adelaide,” he said.

“This is not a normal game of football that’s being contemplated – not only in the context of the game itself but in terms of how it’s going to be allowed to occur – and every event that is proposed to be run in South Australia is subject to the same level of consideration.”

– with AAP

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